ETCETERA / Bridge

THIS week's deal from the recent big pairs event in Marbella featured both good judgement in the bidding and some rather delicate play in a side suit. How should you tackle a suit of K 10 8 facing 6 5 3 2 when all the indications are that the ace is badly placed for you?

Playing a strong, no-trump North was reduced to opening One Diamond. East, rather boldly, overcalled with Two Clubs and, not to be outdone, South bid Two Hearts. West tried Two Spades, North raised his partner's hearts and East bid Three Spades. South persevered with four Hearts and, when West pushed on to four Spades and North doubled, he went on to Five Hearts. West's double completed a lively auction.

West led the ace of clubs and switched to the ten of spades. He would hardly have done this if he held the king of spades, so declarer went up with the ace. It seemed clear that Four Spades would have made and declarer's problem lay in conceding only 300 points instead of 500. The whereabouts of the nine of diamonds (always known as 'the Curse of Scotland') was critical.

After winning the spade declarer drew trumps with the queen and king. Then came a diamond to the eight. The sight of West's queen was good news and, after the defenders had cashed their club trick, South ruffed the next club and went over to the ace of hearts for the next diamond play. The ten lost to the ace and a ninth trick had been salvaged.

Was this a happy ending? Not really, for not many East-West pairs had advanced as far as Four Spades . . .

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